Author visits to primary schools in Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and beyond

2018 has been a very busy year for me so far. I’ve been privileged to visit sixteen schools in Swinton, Stockport, Ellesmere Port, West Kirby, Birkenhead, Preston, Wigan, Widnes, Runcorn and Chorley. We’ve had fun dressing up and acting out my Pollyanne book with the help of some very talented actors and actresses hee-hawing and pretending to be opera singers! The children have been full of story ideas and have designed some wonderful front covers for their own amazing animal stories.

The Y5 and Y6 classes have been so enthusiastic, we’ve enjoyed writing books together as a class and holding press conferences. The standard of writing has been excellent with it being tough to pick the winners in each school. Every school I’ve visited has been enthusiastic about reading for pleasure and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to encourage the children to try and read something new – whether it’s non-fiction, newspapers, comics or joke books.

My first picture book ‘The Best World Book Week Ever’ has been so popular and I’m over the moon (shout to my co-authors, Y5 and Y6 children from Adswood, Cambridge Road and St Mary’s primary schools). Meeting my illustrator Scott in person after months of speaking through email was great, we’re already chatting about what our next book together will be. We did two joint author visits – one at his sons’ school and the other at the school he attended when he was five. It was nice to share our favourite parts of the story and our favourite illustrations.

I’ve received some lovely feedback from teachers and children at the schools I’ve visited. I love doing author talks, they’re my favourite thing about being an author. It feels incredible to meet children who already have one or more of my books at home.

Happy reading,

Lots of love

Sarah

x

 

The Best World Book Week Ever! Get your copy now

I’m happy to announce that The Best World Book Week Ever is out (RRP £6.99) so you can get your copy now from bookshops, Amazon or direct from me (I’m happy to sign your copy and write a special message if you email saraholiverauthor@yahoo.co.uk). We’ve had three great book signings so far and I’ve shared the book with several schools during my author visits. It’s been very well received.

The Best World Book Week Ever

If you’re looking for a book to read to your child or class in the run up to World Book Day, this book is perfect. It encourages children to try reading new types of books, newspapers and comics, gets them excited about books and World Book Day in general. It also gives you plenty of ideas for what you could during World Book Week/Day. If you do buy a copy of the book and would like some worksheets relating to the book, please send me an email saraholiverauthor@yahoo.co.uk.

Here are just some World Book Day activity ideas you could do relating to the book:

  • Design your own front cover for the Jungle Times
  • Act out the story for the rest of the school. Perfect activity for Y5 or Y6
  • Design your own Super Monkey magazine
  • Create a book themed treasure hunt with map and chocolate coins.
  • Hold a class book quiz. The children could have fun writing the questions.
  • Write your very own fairy tale.
  • Hold your own bedtime story afternoon and read the stories the children have written (while wearing PJs and drinking hot choc).

I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of the story, please send me a tweet or email.

Lots of love

Sarah

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A busy few weeks

I hope you’re looking forward to Christmas as much as I am!

I’m so excited about ‘The Best World Book Week’ coming out in January, as are my co-authors, the children of St Mary’s, Adswood and Cambridge Road Primary Schools. We’ve had great fun writing together and acting out the story. It’s going to be lovely doing book signings together.

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Last week, I was invited to spend a morning at Mattel Play! in Liverpool with my girls. We had so much fun. Lizzy loved the Thomas the Tank area the best, driving the train and pretending to be a farmer. Lily isn’t walking yet but she still managed to get around the shop in the Fireman Sam area, filling her basket with goodies. I was really pleased that I managed to get Lizzy to climb inside the fire engine as she normally shies away from fire engines at summer fairs.

The Bob the Builder area was ideal for Lizzy because she loves building towers and knocking them down. Because it was mid-week it wasn’t busy either, so Lily and the other little ones could crawl away to their heart’s delight. We can’t wait to go again, Lizzy in particular loved every minute and it was so nice to have a day out with my girls in Liverpool.

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Has your school got a defibrillator?

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the UK Heart Safe Awards in Manchester. I met some lovely people and even got to present an award. I felt so honoured to be invited, I love being the patron of the Hand on Heart charity which is saving lives by placing defibrillators in schools and community buildings, training adults how to use a defibrillator and teaching children how to perform basic life support.

 

If your school doesn’t have a defibrillator please, please, please get in touch with Hand on Heart. Do it today.  It’s really easy, just send an email to enquiries@handonheart.org and they can help get a defibrillator in your school. Don’t wait until you need one or it could be too late.

EVERY school should have a defibrillator and Hand on Heart are on a mission to make every school in the UK heart safe. If someone has a cardiac arrest, a defibrillator can increase survival rates by 74%. If you’re a parent, ask your child’s school if they have a defibrillator and if they don’t encourage them to get in touch with Hand on Heart. My oldest daughter’s nursery has one and I’m so pleased that it’s there, it’s keeping my daughter and her friends safe.

Inspirational performers

A wonderful choir from Park Road Primary School in Sale performed last night and they were incredible. After their performance Christine from Hand on Heart revealed why they were there. They had been the last school in the Trafford borough to be given a free defibrillator by Hand on Heart. They were so touched that they decided to fundraise so that another school could receive a free defibrillator. The school who received the defibrillator decided to do the same so their generosity has created a ripple effect. How amazing is that! You can hear them one song here >

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It was so moving

The UK Heart Safe award winners had all helped make a difference and saved countless lives. One woman had saved her mum’s life when she had a cardiac arrest at work, another man had saved the life of a man at the gym he worked at, because they had a defibrillator there, ready to use. Companies won awards for helping to fund defibrillators and one man had managed to fundraise enough money to fund 92 defibrillators. He really has made a huge difference and it all started when he learnt that a man had died in his local Morrisons store and there hadn’t been a defibrillator within 10 miles. He fundraised for one defibrillator, then two and the rest is history.

It was an incredible night and I really hope you can help make the UK heart safe. Hand on Heart are currently trying to get funding from the Aviva Community Fund for four defibrillators. Please vote for us by clicking here >

Much love,

Sarah

xxx

PS this pic is of me and Louise, who I had the pleasure of sitting next to last night. She is a Hand on Heart volunteer and a real life saver. Hand on Heart installed a defibrillator at her workplace and the very next day she used it to save a man’s life. She hadn’t received training on how to use it, but she’s proof that you don’t need training to use a defib, as it talks to you and tells you exactly what to do.

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Could your school co-author a book with me?

After spending the last few years focusing on non-fiction and biographies, I’m pleased to report that my first picture book is due out at the end of January. The BEST World Book Week Ever is a story about a cheeky monkey called Danny who loves to read all kinds of books, comics, newspapers, you name it, he reads it! His jungle class are celebrating World Book Week in lots of amazing ways and as readers, we’re invited along for the ride.
During November, I’m planning on visiting a select number of schools and running workshops, we’ll work on the story, decide who Danny’s classmates should be and think about the pictures we want my fantastic illustrator to draw. The workshops will mainly suit Y5 and Y6 classes, but we’d start the day with a whole school assembly, and finish with the Y5 and Y6 children performing the story we’ve written together for the rest of the school (using my vast array of costumes and props). 
It’s a very unique project and I’m super excited about it. The book will be for sale everywhere, in bookshops in the UK, and across the world, and has the potential to do very well. If your school are involved, you’d be credited in the first few pages of the book, and I could pop over and we could do a signing together, either at the school, at a local bookshop or library (I’m happy to arrange nearer the time).
If you’re interested, please drop me an email and we can discuss dates and prices. My email address is saraholiverauthor@yahoo.co.uk.

My first picture book

I am very, very excited to announce my first picture book is being published. I’m bursting with excitement in fact. I’m working with a fantastic illustrator called Scott, and hopefully I’ll be able to share a picture of the main character Danny next week. (I’ve named him after my brother Dan)…

‘The Best World Book Week Ever’ is out in January. It tells the tale of Danny, a cheeky monkey who loves to read all kinds of books, and is celebrating World Book Week with the rest of his jungle class. This story is perfect to read in the run up to your own World Book Week, or during the week itself. Danny’s story will encourage reluctant readers to try new books, and get everyone in your class/school excited about books and reading. It’s not available to pre-order yet, but when it is, you’ll be the first to know.

In other news, I’ve just got back from a lovely family holiday in Disneyland Paris. It was out-of-this-world incredible. I don’t know who enjoyed it more, me, my hubby or my girls!

I’ve been asked to be the patron of the charity Hand on Heart, what a great honour. Hand on Heart, help raise awareness and train teachers to save children’s lives with defibrillators in schools. If your school doesn’t have a defibrillator, get in touch with Hand on Heart and lets get one fitted ASAP.

I hope you’re excited by my news,

Sarah

xxx

 

 

I’m back!

Hi everyone, sorry for my silence. I’ve had a lovely time off with my baby Lily. She was eight months old on Wednesday, that’s gone so quick. I’ve been busy writing picture books which I’m very excited about and I managed to pop into four amazing schools to join their World Book Day celebrations in March. (It was hard leaving Lily with her grandparents and daddy for a whole day for the first time but I didn’t want to miss out on meeting you guys).

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting the Literacy Awards at Swinton High School which was incredible. I met so many children and adults who were as passionate about reading as I am. Are you reading any good books at the minute? If you are, why not send me a tweet? I’m looking for some recommendations. (Don’t forget, I also have a fan page on Facebook)

Here are some pictures from the Awards:

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Hello summer holidays!

Last week schools broke up for the summer which means no more author talks until September at least. I’ve had a lovely time visiting schools during the academic year 2015/16 and I’ve worked with some amazing pupils.

I’m very grateful to the staff and pupils of All Saints C of E Primary School in Manchester and Victoria Road Primary School in Northwich who have sent me testimonials I can include on my author talks page. I’ve shared my author story with over 5000 pupils so far and I’m hoping to do even more author talks in the academic year 2016/17.

My brother has moved to London to become a primary school teacher and I’m looking forward to doing an author talk in his new school… I’ll have to add some embarrassing photos of us growing up to my assembly presentation for that one!

Sarah Oliver at the BBCThere’s only a month to go until my Zayn book comes out in America so I’m very excited about that. I’m looking forward to my author copies arriving any day now.

A few weeks ago I was interviewed for The Today Show in Australia which was pretty scary but thrilling at the same time. Sadly I didn’t get to go to Australia but it was still exciting to visit the BBC studios in Manchester to film it.

I’m currently writing a new Miley Cyrus book for my American publishers and planning more books – I will of course keep you informed.

Much love,

Sarah (and bump)

xxxxx

 

World Book Day is nearly here!

world book day 1I’ve had a busy few weeks. I visited 500 children at St Margaret Mary’s Junior School in Huyton, the children were amazing. The school promotes reading a lot and this showed in the work the children produced. I was blown away by the imaginations of the Y3 and Y4 children I worked with. The Y5 and Y6 pupils were really interested in finding out what press conferences are like and how I go about interviewing people.

Later this week, I’m heading to Victoria Road Primary School in Northwich and I can’t wait. I think doing author talks is the best thing about being an author because I get to inspire children. I love it when children (and teachers) come up to me after one of my assemblies and say that my talk has really moved them.

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An interview with author Killarney Traynor

(This is the sixth interview in my inspirational people series. To read more interviews please click here >)

Killarney is a talented author, actress and stuntwoman from America. I was interested to find out more about her and I hope you enjoy reading this interview. I particularly like the section on her faith and how being a Christian has impacted on her career choices.

KillarneyWriting questions

Where did you grow up?

In New Hampshire, which is just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Most of my childhood was spent in Chester, a semi-rural community with lots of small farms and horses.

 Have you always been an avid reader? I used to love sitting in the corner of the playground reading at break times? Who were your favourite authors/books?

Oh, yes! I loved to read anything and everything and I became an expert at finding places to hide where I could read undisturbed. My favorite authors growing up were definitely Laura Ingalls Wilder, CS Lewis, Lucy Maude Montgomery, and Louisa May Alcott. I was also a huge Nancy Drew fan: I so wanted strawberry-blond hair!

Who were your favourite teachers at school? What were your favourite subjects?

Actually, the one I learned the most from was probably my dad: he’s a bigger reader than I am and he would always encourage me to tackle new, and more challenging books. We still swap books today.

As for subjects, I loved history the most, but I also liked literature (naturally, right?), geography, and some of the sciences. I was terrible at math, but don’t tell my boss: my day job is accounting.

Did you have any big parts in school productions?

I played about six characters in A Christmas Carol, and also directed a terrible Robin Hood production. That taught me that I had a lot to learn about directing.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I always wanted to write, but I was absolutely convinced I was going to be a paleontologist when I grew up. I read every book about dinosaurs and fossils I could find and told my mother that I was going to build a dinosaur museum at the foot of our driveway. I couldn’t understand it when she burst out laughing.

What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced?

My biggest challenge has probably been getting over my own reticence – I’m actually a pretty private person and the idea of putting my name on a book and admitting to everyone I knew (and didn’t know) that, yes, I wrote this, was a simply terrifying idea. Luckily, I had lots of support and encouragement from friends and family. Slowly, I’m learning to balance my private and more public life.

What are your favourite TV shows and movies?

I’ve watched the Star Wars until I can practically recite them and I love the original Star Trek series. I have a lot of favorites, but here’s a sampling: the new Planet of the Apes series, Inspector Morse and Lewis TV shows, Lois and Clark, Fraser, Hogan’s Heroes, Elementary, Jurassic Park, The Time Tunnel, Rio Bravo, every version of Pride and Prejudice (I cannot wait for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to come out) and any Zorro series with any actor ever – the cheesier the better!

 

If you could have written any book in the world, which one would you pick? I’d have pick Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird – I love that book so much.

Probably Jane Eyre – such a rich, dark, and brave book with a strong lead.

Could you quickly summarise how you went about getting your first book deal?

I’m an indie author, so at the moment, I’m publishing myself. It’s a lot of work, but very interesting and I get to pick my own covers – win!

Summer ShadowsDo you have any special moments that you’ll never forget? 

So far, the best moment for me was when a man stopped me to tell me how the story of one of Summer Shadows characters – one of the more controversial characters, actually – helped him to heal from a past hurt that he’d been dealing with for a long time. That was an unexpected gift.

Do you have a favourite out of all of your books? I know this is a hard question that you mightn’t be able to answer?

Oh, gosh! That is a hard one: the funny this is, I think my favorite book isn’t one I have published yet. It’s a fantasy novel that I wrote as a teenager, about a young man that gets swept off into war. It was my first attempt at serious writing and the reviews I got from my friends and family gave me the courage to continue writing in this vein.

What tips would you give to children who want to become authors?

Read, read, read, read, read! Read everything and everything and learn everything you can about the world around you. The broader your interests, the more interesting your books will be!

Who has supported you the most during your author journey?

My editor, Jenna Brooks – she helped me shape the first book, Summer Shadows, into something readable, and helped me through the entire publishing process. She’s an author in her own right and a dynamite personality.

Which is your favourite character and why?

I like all my characters, but my favorite is probably Ron Budd, from Summer Shadows. He’s such an interesting, intense, lost little boy, who really transforms over the course of the book. He’s also one of my more controversial character, so I think I’m a bit protective of him.

Have you got any big plans for 2016?

Right now I’m working on a mystery script for my brother’s film company, Narrow Street Films, plus I’m outlining three different books – and hope to finish at least one by the end of this year!

Acting

Have you got any directors or actors that you’d love to work with in the future?

Oh, gosh, my list is so long! If I had a choice, I’d love to work with Kenneth Branagh – I love the depth and breadth he brings to movies, even seemingly simple ones like Thor. He’d be someone I could learn a lot from.

Have you acted in plays as well as movies?

Not yet, but I’d love to! I think acting in front of a live audience would be an interesting and edifying challenge.

What’s it like being a stunt woman? How did you get into it?

My brother has a film company, Narrow Street Films, and I’ve worked with him off and on through-out the years. Initially, I got into stunt work because I’m one of the only women on the crew and few of the guys could double for me. Stunt work is a lot of fun and a little nerve-wracking at times: I’ve had to jump off a cliff (a short cliff, but still), hang on to the back of an ATV while racing through the woods, and get thrown in numerous explosions. Plus, since my brother almost always does action/adventure movies, I’ve had to do a lot of fights scenes, too, which are probably my favorite thing to do!

Music

What sort of music do you like?

I love a lot of different kinds – rock, pop, Christian, jazz, classical, even some country and folk – , but the performers/writers that were probably the most influential were Henry Mancini, Karen Carpenter, and Bing Crosby. I write to Henry Mancini, wish I could sing like Karen Carpenter, and relax to Crosby. I also love Blackmore’s Night, Josh Groban, and Within Temptation – they paint such vivid pictures with their music.

Do you perform as part of a group or solo? Do you write your own music?

I sing in a choir, and I’ve recorded a duet for a movie. I have written some of my own music – some hymns, a Sinatra-standard type, some rock-pop songs, some folky, even a song about my ukulele, just because that word is so much fun to say.

Nesessary EvilWhat do you love the most, writing books, acting, stunt work or music?

Definitely novel-writing – it’s immersive and intense, and as broad or narrow as my imagination can make it.

Faith

How has your faith impacted on your career choices?

My faith is constantly reminding me that there is more to life than the pursuit of wealth and material goods. When I make career choices, it helps me to keep my life/work/family balance and reminds me that any work worth doing is worth doing well.

How old were you when you became a Christian?

I was baptized as an infant, and actually taught myself to read on a book of Bible stories (the pictures were so interesting that I had to figure out what was going on!) I consciously became a Christian when I was eleven, and later became a Catholic when I was eighteen. I feel that being a Christian is an ongoing process – you’re always learning and evolving. Like any good relationship, it deepens over time.

Do you have a couple of favourite bible verses that have helped you through tough times or you particularly like?

I really love Psalm 23: I learned that when I was a child and it’s helped me through some dark times. Another is Matthew 28:20b: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” And whenever I am really anxious, Matthew 7:25-26 really helps me to refocus: “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry… Look at the birds in the sky… they gather nothing, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more important than they?”

Are there any particular modern worship songs or hymns you particularly like?

Toby Mac’s Lose My Soul, Kutless’ What Faith Can Do, and Sanctus Real’s The Redeemer are all powerful songs that lend themselves well to prayer. I love the oldies, too: Amazing Grace, Were You There, and Tantum Ergo are good examples.

 

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